Agencies plan mainframe upgrades, shun cloud computing

Survey suggests little interest in the cloud

Most government agencies are planning to modernize their mainframe applications in six months to two years, but cloud computing is a priority for only a few as they make modernization plans, according to an informal recent survey from enterprise application modernization and management software provider Micro Focus.

More than 72 percent of those surveyed said they are planning to build application modernization into their budgets in the next six months to two years, with 40 percent planning to do so in one year.  However, only 6 percent of those surveyed planned to adopt cloud computing as part of their modernization efforts.

Micro Focus, the source of the survey, provides applications and services aimed at modernizing enterprise applications and connecting legacy systems to newer architectures as organizations migrate technology, according to the company's Web site.

The top modernization objective cited by respondents was to move to Web-enabled systems (54 percent), with Windows cited as their systems’ most likely platform (38 percent) after modernization. Long-term cost savings was noted as the most important benefit of modernization, with ease-of-use a close second.

With tight budgets, government agencies are facing increasing pressure to treat their information technology solutions as investments to improve service and reduce costs, rather than expenses, said Tim Young, senior manager of federal government services at Deloitte.

However, agencies must develop a solid business case for these modernization efforts before starting projects, taking into account the program’s goals and fiscal constraints, he said. Although many agencies plan to modernize their mainframe-based applications, he said, “it’s unclear if agencies will leverage the surge capacity, economies of scale and cost efficiencies of a cloud infrastructure or pursue through more traditional approaches. Modernization can help further an agency’s goals both on the functional and fiscal side, but it has to balance both perspectives."

These modernization efforts will also help agencies move toward adopting next generation technologies such as service-oriented architecture and cloud computing models, said Ken Powell, president of Micro Focus North America. Application modernization “allows agencies to upgrade their legacy systems without replacing or rewriting core mission-critical applications, which can be expensive, risky, and time consuming,” he said.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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Reader Comments

Tue, Mar 9, 2010 Mark Haynie, Micro Focus Enterprise Cloud Services

In the pursuit of cloud computing, organizations can easily be overwhelmed with the thought of a complete shift in their IT strategy, architecture and culture. Especially in today’s fiscal environment, where government IT budgets are looking mostly flat for 2011, agencies want to make sure that they’re spending wisely and getting the most out of their IT investments. When agencies consider migrating to a cloud platform, or any platform for that matter, they need not approach it with an all-or-nothing mentality. Perhaps this is to blame for some hesitation with cloud computing’s adoption.

Ultimately, cloud computing is just another platform, and through applications modernization, agencies can realize cloud computing’s many benefits by taking an incremental approach. Such an approach would allow agencies to strategically cloud-enable their IT assets in a manner that maximizes the value to the organization without interrupting mission-critical business processes. As cost-conscious IT departments continue to look at modernization strategies to reduce costs and improve efficiencies, incremental cloud migration can be a natural outgrowth of application modernization. It’s a smarter approach that is much less costly, time-consuming, and potentially risky, when compared to a full-out system overhaul. For more information: http://gcn.com/articles/2009/07/01/commentary-cobol-applications-cloud-computing.aspx?sc_lang=en

Wed, Mar 3, 2010 thecloudguy Washington DC

The premise of this article ignores the simple fact that much of what agencies are indicating they will do, must be done, before they can migrate to a cloud-based environment or software. The bulk of mission-oriented and business process based applications in Federal agencies are not standardized or even based on architectures that are portable. Theme of the article should be that Federal agencies have a lot of work to do before they can use cloud.

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